Ban Den Friends: Gay Experiences in Thailand is the title of a novel I wrote based on real and imagined gay and transgender characters. It is an anthology of anecdotes in a random sequence, tied together by the friends having celebrations which unite them. All sorts of gay issues in Thailand are mentioned: coming out, breaking up, getting married, going into business and into show business, coming to terms with life, suicide, living with HIV, commercial sex, deception, transparency, reconciliation, sugar daddies, sex change, coming of age, promiscuity and more. The characters are varied including: teachers, priests, minor royalty, professional gamblers, school-age guys, foreign residents, villagers (Ban Den is a village), masseurs and entrepreneurs and more.
James Barnes, editor-in-chief and major domo of OUT in Thailand magazine has published Ban Den Friends as an e-book. It came out on March 1. He is also serializing part of it in OUT beginning already with the March issue.
Here are two samples:
New Year’s Eve dawned clear and cool, but Tick wasn’t conscious of it. He and Bank were sound asleep in the curtained-off corner of the large costume rental shop Tick owned in the Chang Puak area of the old walled city of Chiang Mai. They had been busy until after midnight helping a dance team at the university through three costume changes before Tick and Bank exhausted themselves in an hour of frantic lust, ending naked on the fold-out mattress. Now in full daylight, one had to venture beyond the curtains for their bath towels. Bank made the dash.
“Is it 10?” Tick croaked. “Omigosh, Noom’ll be here any minute. He’s always on time.”
Their tiny toilet was barely large enough for a man to urinate standing, yet both managed to shower at the same time, anyway. They were almost fully dressed when the little Mazda pulled up to the door.
Jan, Noom, Suwit, Noi and Berp were there for their evening gowns. Goong and two others had come the day before. Tick had a cupid costume arranged for himself, complete with feathered wings and a bow and arrows. Bank planned to show off his pulchritude in a diaphanous garment. The costumers were ready for the evening’s events. (Page 39)
“Remind me again,” Supot said, with just a hint of a lisp, “what is your name?”
“Anand, khrap,” the fellow said, looking into Supot’s eyes, his own gleaming like polished onyx in the lamplight.
Supot Nettiphan was one of Chiang Mai’s earliest gay leaders to “come out.”
There was no use for a person who dressed and acted as he did, to try hiding. He had layers of social and economic protection. He was from one of Chiang Mai’s aristocratic families. Being the only child with no offspring made him the last twig on his branch.
His life revolved around two pivots: his aging mother and his role as the founding director of the Royal Institute, a large humanitarian foundation dealing with social and human issues. Being an impresario of gay social events was a side line, one he thoroughly enjoyed.
“You are very good looking,” he whispered.
“Would you like to see more?” Anand teased him.
Supot neither agreed nor disagreed. There was no need. Anand stood up next to the wide teak bench and slipped down his shorts. Then he slowly pivoted so Supot had an unobstructed view of all sides of elegant Anand. (Page 59)
Ban Den Friends is available from James at www.out-in-Thailand.com/shop. The preface to the book is in the March 2013 issue of OUT which you can access for free at www.out-in-thailand.com.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.